Jabil [NYSE: JBL]: Advanced Lean Processes Improving Manufacturing Efficiency

CIO VendorWalter Garvin, VP, Global Lean Six Sigma
In a competitive global marketplace, today’s manufacturers are on a constant lookout for advanced analytics tools and techniques to deal with information overload. A large amount of data transfer impacts storage capacity and speed of transfer, potentially creating production outages. “In such a scenario, lean process allows manufacturers to eliminate wasteful data governance activities and promote efficiencies,” said Walter Garvin, VP-Global Lean Six Sigma, Jabil. Implementing Lean and Six Sigma enables Jabil to reduce variations, defects, and costs, eliminate product development waste and non-value added activities, and improve manufacturing efficiency in order to deliver customer products in the most effective way. Apart from adopting Lean and Six Sigma's conceptual framework, Jabil is focused on creating competitive advantage for customers by providing solutions at each step of the value chain. “Being a design and manufacturing solutions provider, we deliver a wide range of strategic design, manufacturing and product management, and supply chain capabilities, allowing customers to think beyond their conventional marketplace and explore new opportunities.”

The ongoing use of Lean and Six Sigma principles throughout the company has always been a significant part of Jabil's culture within their plants and throughout all functional departments, including finance, business development, product development, and supply chain management. Starting their lean journey in 2009, it was in 2012 that the firm internally developed a best practice sharing platform called eKaizen. “It is a single repository platform for all of our Lean Six Sigma projects,” notes Garvin. Having a quick and easy search capability, the platform enables customers to find solutions to their production and any office-related challenges with just a single click. “eKaizen allows us to take up lean projects from anywhere in the world and share them with all employees at any level of the organization.”

Jabil's Global Lean Six Sigma team aims to create a workforce of problem solvers, where everyone is focused on continually driving improvements in quality, delivery, and cost

Having a highly remote workforce, Jabil has further embraced several collaboration platforms to create the “Virtual Kaizen event.” Guided by two imperatives—continuous improvement and waste elimination—the Kaizen event with its cross-functional team, gets together and maps out the existing process and determines opportunities for improvement. This initiative reduces the waste associated with Kaizen events for global teams. “By eliminating the need for travel, we cut costs and remove fatigue from jet lag and time out of the office, allowing participants to maintain high levels of quality and productivity,” extols Garvin.

Additionally, the firm takes a value stream transformation approach to eliminate non-value added actions. “One of the tools we use to measure the value stream transformation is the internally developed Lean Maturity Assessment (LMA),” said Garvin. “LMA provides insight into current and future states of a site’s lean deployment and allows us to determine and share best practices across the Jabil enterprise. Each assessment is approached as a coaching event and our assessors provide constructive feedback and recommendations which enable sites to enhance their lean culture.”

Operating with three different branded businesses—Jabil EMS, Nypro, and Green Point, each with a distinct market focus—Jabil can easily understand specific business challenges of their customers. Not only does this enable Jabil to meet the unique needs of the current customers, but also bring about a horizontal set of solutions to bear on other vertical market segments in support of both organic and acquisitive growth opportunities in the years to come. “Jabil's Global Lean Six Sigma team aims to create a workforce of problem solvers, where everyone is focused on continually driving improvements in quality, delivery, and cost,” Garvin concludes.